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Equalities minister Liz Truss finally wishes everyone a happy Pride – more than two weeks in – amid growing fears over trans rights rollback

Vic Parsons June 18, 2020
Liz Truss just wished everyone a happy Pride – 17 days in

The backlash to equalities minister Liz Truss' comments has not just come from the opposition – it has come from across the political spectrum in the UK. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Conservative minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, has wished the LGBT+ community “Happy Pride” – just 17 short days into Pride Month.

Speaking before prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons on June 17, Truss was asked by fellow Conservative MP Peter Gibson whether she thought it was “essential” that the Tories deliver on their 2018 LGBT+ Action Plan.

“I take this opportunity to wish everybody the very best for a happy Pride,” Truss replied.

“I am sure that we will be doing a lot of things virtually rather than on the streets, but it is very important that we celebrate, and I am delighted that we are hosting the LGBT+ conference on the theme of ‘Safe to be me’.

“In response to my honourable friend’s question, we will be updating our plans for LGBT+ rights for 2020 and we want to continue to lead the world on this issue.”

The 2018 LGBT+ Action Plan, which Liz Truss is now responsible for delivering, contained the promise to ban so-called gay conversion therapy.

Truss also commented on this in parliament, saying that gay conversion therapy is a “vile, abhorrent practice” that the Tories “want to stop”.

“We have commissioned research to look at the scope of the practice in the UK, and we will publish our plans shortly after we receive that research,” Truss said, despite conversion therapy being covered by the LGBT+ Action Plan that surveyed more than 100,000 LGBT+ people in the UK.

In 2015, LGBT+ charity Stonewall commissioned its own research on conversion therapy, which found that 10 per cent of health and care staff in the UK have witnessed colleagues expressing the belief that lesbian, gay and bi people can be “cured” of their sexual orientation.

Liz Truss added that she was “particularly concerned about under-18s being coerced into so-called conversion therapies”.

When asked if Truss’ comments in parliament suggested the minister was planning on diverging from the throughly-researched LGBT+ Action Plan, a spokesperson for the government equalities office said: “We want to continue to lead the world on LGBT rights.

“We have continued to deliver on the pledges in the Action Plan, and will shortly bring forward proposals to end conversion therapy.”

Truss, Boris Johnson’s equalities chief, has responsibility for long-delayed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) – the process that trans people have, since 2004, used to gain legal recognition of their gender.

She sparked widespread alarm on April 22 when she set out her plans for GRA reform, which drastically differed from the potential reforms set out by Theresa May’s government and seemed to instead repeat anti-trans talking points.

The LGBT+ group of every major political party has slammed Truss for her “troubling” attack on healthcare provision for trans youth, as well as her suggestion that trans people be free from persecution subject to “checks and balances” and her remarks concerning trans people’s access to single-sex spaces like public bathrooms.

But The Sunday Times reported last weekend that Truss and Johnson allegedly plan to scrap long-delayed GRA reforms and instead bring in “new protections” for women’s spaces that would bar trans women from using them.

This news has caused outrage, with high-profile queers like The Good Place actor Jameela Jamil telling Johnson that plans to ban trans women from women’s single-sex spaces were “not in her name”, and nearly 8,000 cis women writing to Truss urging her to halt her anti-trans plans.

Politicians including the Lib Dems’ Layla Moran, who in January 2020 became the UK’s first openly pansexual MP, have demanded Truss explain herself to parliament.

Widespread confusion over whether or not GRA reform has been scrapped, as well as fears over potential US-style anti-trans “bathroom bills” and anger about anti-trans rhetoric making its way into the highest levels of government have also led to a peaceful protest for trans rights being planned for central London.

The Sunday Times had also reported that as well as rolling back trans rights, Truss plans to finally ban so-called gay conversion therapy to “placate” LGB people angry at the attack on trans rights – two years after the Tories said they would ban it.

The government says it will publish its response to the public consultation on GRA reform before the summer recess on July 21.

 

 

 

More: Boris Johnson, conversion therapy, gender recognition act, GRA Reform, LGBT action plan, liz truss, Pride month, Theresa May

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